AUSTIN, Texas — For the second year in a row, Austin has broken its record for the number of traffic fatalities in one year.
The police department recorded 122 deaths related to traffic in 2022, beating out the previous year's 120. This marks the highest for a single year in nearly four decades, according to a report from KVUE's news partners at the Austin American-Statesman.
The report states that pedestrian collisions made up a large portion of 2022's traffic deaths, with speeding, large vehicles, dangerous crosswalks and unsafe walking as potential factors.
The Stateman reports that as many as 50 pedestrians were killed in 2022, making up around 41% of all traffic-related fatalities. In 2021, there were 45.
The Austin Police Department's Lt. William White leads the vehicular homicide unit. He pointed toward speeding as a major factor in the deaths.
Meanwhile, police have also noted a shortage in officers that has caused the APD to disband units dedicated to drunken driving and speeding enforcement. Officers assigned to these units have been sent to patrol duty.
"It's nothing short of frustrating," White told the Statesman. "I believe wholeheartedly that were we to have more officers out there visible and making traffic stops, we could certainly reduce serious injury crashes and fatal crashes."
Payton Bowyer, a trauma injury prevention coordinator at St. David's South Austin Medical Center, said as a driver, it's very important to stay alert and not rely on the safety features your car may have.
"Cars have so many safety features now, and we can see by the data that it's not helping with saving our drivers and our pedestrians and cyclists on the road. So it's really important to not use your safety features as a crutch and making sure that you are paying attention and knowing that you are responsible for not only your life but other people's lives when you're driving," Bowyer said.
When it comes to pedestrians, cyclists or motorists, officials say it's important that you know your rights as a pedestrian and use crosswalks and sidewalks whenever possible.
"What's important now is that to remember to ride right and walk left. So if you are a bike, ride with traffic. If you're walking, walk against traffic," Bowyer said.
St. David's HealthCare offers a "Stop the Bleed" course to help educate people on how to identify traumatic bleeding and be able to help treat it until law enforcement gets there.